Springdale softball looks to build on success of breakthrough season

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Wednesday, March 31, 2021 | 6:05 PM


There was a great deal of excitement surrounding the Springdale softball team after a rather youthful group posted 13 wins in 17 games and made the quarterfinals of the WPIAL Class A playoffs in 2019. 

That run came after the program posted 15 wins in the previous nine seasons combined.

The Dynamos were able to scrimmage and defeat Quigley Catholic before last season was shut down.

“The girls were feeling good about themselves after that scrimmage and were coming off a season in which we made the playoffs for the first time in like 18 years, and we had won our first playoff game,” coach Anthony Pototo said. “So there was a lot to build on. Not being able to play last year and continue that momentum was really disappointing.”

But Pototo said the energy has been high since the start of preseason workouts March 8, and he doesn’t see any reason why that won’t continue into April.

He said that energy comes from a solid core of returning players who got rolling as freshmen and sophomores in 2019.

“We’ve already played two scrimmages and two regular-season games, and we’ve seen great results,” Pototo said. “We mixed and matched in the scrimmages to see what the best combination would be as we have a nice mix of experience and new talent.”

Springdale opened with a 15-0 win over Cornell last Friday and returned to the field Monday and topped Bishop Canevin 11-1 in six innings behind a 13-strikeout, four-hit performance in the pitching circle from junior Alexis Hrivnak.

“We moved some girls around into different position, still seeing where I can put people,” Pototo said. “This team has a lot of versatility. (Junior) Bri Thompson is one who I can put anywhere. She can catch, play in the infield anywhere and also in center field. That’s the same with a number of other girls.”

The Dynamos collected eight hits against Bishop Canevin, and Hrivnak, a Valley News Dispatch second-team all-star in 2019, finished with two doubles and a single.

“It just feels great to be back out here and playing with everybody,” said Hrivnak, who batted .475 as a freshman with five home runs and added a 13-4 record with 135 strikeouts.

“We have a number of new girls, some who have never played the game before, but they are really good athletes. That’s what makes it even more fun.”

Fellow junior Emily Wilhelm (shortstop/third base) also doubled twice against Bishop Canevin. She batted .409 as a freshman and is the team’s leadoff hitter.

Senior Natalie Woitas (first base) is back after a strong season two years ago. She showed her power with a .491 average and eight doubles, two triples and three home runs.

Thompson homered twice, smacked four doubles and six triples and led the team with a .622 average.

Also back looking to make a difference is senior second baseman Dayna Zezza.

Pototo said juniors Autumn Sprouse (catcher), Emily Shoop (third base) and Holly Ihnat (center field), freshman Rachel Hicks (left field) and senior newcomer Miranda Shock (right field) showed good things in the lineup against Bishop Canevin.

“We’re working with some newer girls who are showing a lot of promise,” Pototo said. “We’ve been working on building a solid-hitting lineup whether we’re inside or outside. We know that with Alexis pitching, she’s going to keep teams to a couple of runs, at most, in games, and we should be quick and smart on the base paths and be able to put up a lot of runs. We just have a good group of girls who understand the game.”

Springdale hopes to challenge for the section title in Section 3-A with games against Ellis, Leechburg, Northgate, Riverview and St. Joseph.

Leechburg got the better of Springdale twice in 2019 and went on to claim the section title.

The Dynamos are scheduled to return to action Tuesday at home against Serra Catholic and Wednesday at Burrell before jumping into section play.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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